Commercialization: December 2005 Archives

NASA JSC Solicitation: Venture Capitalist Consulting Services

"This notice is being issued as Request for Proposal (RFP) for Venture Capitalist Consulting Services. The contractor shall provide consulting as a Venture Capitalist for the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Demonstrations Team."

Editor's note: This is a little confusing. Who's capital is being ventured? NASA's? The venture capitalist's? One would assume it is NASA's money. But is the term being used all that appropriate for what NASA wants to do since "venture capitalists" seek to "venture capital". Indeed, should NASA be acting like a venture capitalist at all?

"3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Rip-Off!" Taxpayer Group Blasts Boeing/Lockheed Launch Vehicle Plan, National Taxpayers Union

"The pending Boeing/Lockheed "United Launch Alliance" (ULA) to provide the Air Force with expendable rockets would unfairly strand taxpayers with a half-billion-dollar-a-year subsidy: that's the message the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) delivered to Congress today, in an open letter urging lawmakers to end subsidies for the companies' current and proposed space-booster schemes. Federal policymakers are expected to consider the merger deal as early as this week."

Falcon 1 Launch Scrubbed

Editor's note: 2:25 pm EST A structural issue in the first stage fuel tank has arisen and the launch is off until at least next month.

Editor's note: 2:00 pm EST Launch window has opened - still in a 15 minute hold due to weather. When countdown resumes there are 15 minutes of additional procedures remaining - pulling back the strong back, vehicle self alignment and check, etc.

Editor's note: 1:52 pm EST 5 minutes into a 15 minute hold. Winds at 27 knots. Close to full on fuel.

Historic SpaceX Launch Set for December 19: The World's Lowest Cost Rocket to Orbit

"On Monday, December 19 at 11 a.m. PST (7 p.m. GMT), the Falcon 1 rocket will begin its journey to orbit, accelerating to 17,000 mph (25 times the speed of sound) in less than ten minutes."

Experts say low-cost rockets could democratize space access, Torrance Daily Breeze

"I asked Boeing why they're not working on this and they said, 'If it succeeds, we'll just buy them,' " the source said.

SpaceX plans Monday launch: Takeoff couldn't come during a worse time for Boeing, Decatur Daily

"California-based Boeing spokesman Dan Beck said SpaceX's planned launch will not affect Boeing. "We wish them the best as they try to enter this difficult market," Beck said."

COTS Charts Online

NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Demonstrations - Draft Announcement Briefing Charts 5 Dec 2005

"The purpose of todays briefing is to present the information provided in the COTS-01-05 Draft Announcement released on December 5, 2005."

Virgin Spaceport to Be Built in N.M., AP

"Virgin Galactic, the British company created by entrepreneur Richard Branson to send tourists into space, and New Mexico announced an agreement Tuesday for the state to build a $225 million spaceport. Virgin Galactic also revealed that up to 38,000 people from 126 countries have paid a deposit for a seat on one of its manned commercial flights, including a core group of 100 "founders" who have paid the initial $200,000 cost of a flight upfront. Virgin Galactic is planning to begin flights in late 2008 or early 2009."

Victoria Principal to fly to space. Life Style Extra

"'Dallas' star Victoria Principal is set to be the first female tourist in space. The actress has reportedly splashed out 115,000 to be rocketed 70 miles above Earth when Sir Richard Branson launches commercial space flights in 2008."

The Air Force Fails Rocket Science, commentary, Business Week

"When the Air Force finds that it has painted itself into a corner, it sometimes comes up with an odd solution: It keeps on painting. That's how I see United Launch Alliance, a proposed Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture that industry sources expect the Pentagon and Federal Trade Commission to approve shortly. And that could be a mistake for the industry and for taxpayers."

SpaceX Sues LockMart and Boeing Over EELV Venture, NASA Watch

So Much for Competition, NASA Watch

NASA MSFC Solicitation: Crew Launch Vehicle First Stage

"ATK is the only source for a large human-rated, reusable solid propellant motor. "

NASA Selects ATK to be Prime Contractor for First Stage of Next Generation Crew Launch Vehicle

Reader note: "What is even more interesting is this was released during Thanksgiving week, with a due date of Dec. 2. How is anyone supposed to do the research required for even a minimal response in 7 working days? Somehow this doesn't seem fair or realistic."

NASA MSFC Solicitation: Robotic Lunar Exploration Program 2

"NASA/MSFC was assigned the project under an internal NASA competition based largely on concepts and expertise contributed by Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Lab (JHU/APL.) NASA/MSFC intends to purchase the items from JHU/APL pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(2), unusual and compelling urgency ... Only JHU/APL is in position to meet the required schedule based upon implementing their existing, unique, and innovative mission concept with an established project team including a world class lunar scientist."

Editor's note: Well, DUH, if you base the spacecraft on a JHU/APL concept, of course they know the idea better than anyone else. Why not compete the concept to see if anyone can do it better? Why is this an "usual and compelling urgency" anyway?

NASA MSFC Solicitation: Lunar Navigation and Communication Infrastructure (LNCI)

"NASA/MSFC intends to purchase the prototype LNCI system from Johns Hopkins University/Applied Research Laboratory (JHU/APL). JHU/APL's status as a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) allows JHU/APL to function as an extension of a program or project office in providing, without an Organizational Conflict of Interest (OCI), oversight, risk reduction and problem solving capability in a manner that ensures the best interests of the government and contractors are protected."

Editor's note: I don't get it. Mike Griffin constantly complains about the lack of engineering expertise resident within NASA - and seeks to get it back via "in sourcing" - and then he turns around decides to send all of this work to JHU/APL (his former employer) on a sole source basis.

Editor's update: I asked MSFC Center Director Dave King about this today at lunch here at the NASA Risk meeting. Specifically, I asked him why the RLEP2 mission was not openly competed, and why, in a time when NASA wanted to bring expertise back in-house, MSFC wanted to send it to JHU/APL instead. At first, he replied that this project had been "internally competed" between MSFC and GSFC. A few moments later he re-characterized the selection of JHU/APL as having been "sort of competitively chosen." King did not respond to the issue of in-sourcing as it relates to RLEP2.

COTS Draft Online

Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Demonstrations

"The announcement and subsequent agreements with industry partners in this project are referred to as Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Demonstrations. COTS is envisioned to be executed in two phases:

Phase 1 A period of development and demonstration by private industry in coordination with NASA of various space transportation capabilities to and from low-Earth orbit (LEO) determined to be most desirable for the Government and other customers.

Phase 2 A potential competitive procurement of orbital transportation services to resupply the ISS with cargo and crew, if a capability is successfully demonstrated and the Government determines it is in its best interest."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Commercialization category from December 2005.

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